A dominating win for Portland on Saturday and a loss by Sky Blue FC on Sunday clinched the Thorns the club’s fourth NWSL playoff appearance. Portland joins the North Carolina Courage as two of the four teams so far that are headed to the postseason. With just a handful of games left in the 2017 regular season, it’s now a race for the final two spots with four teams still in the running: the Orlando Pride, Chicago Red Stars, Seattle Reign and Sky Blue FC, which currently sit in that order in the standings.
Portland Thorns vs. Washington Spirit (4-0: Sinclair (2), Nadim, Sonnet)
After Portland (12-6-4, 40 points) shut out the Washington Spirit (4-13-4, 16 points) on Saturday afternoon as defender Emily Sonnett scored her third goal of the year, the Thorns still needed a tie or loss from Sky Blue FC on Sunday to secure a playoff spot. Things fell in favor or Portland with Sky Blue falling at FC Kansas, making the Thorns the second team to qualify for this year’s postseason. Both North Carolina and Portland have a little bit more work to do to clinch a home playoff game.
Orlando Pride vs. Boston Breakers (4-2: Hill (2), Marta, Ubogagu; White, King)
The Pride earned its fifth consecutive win to remain firmly in playoff contention. Their last loss came on July 22 vs. Chicago. Sitting in fourth place with 35 points and five ahead from fifth-place Seattle, Orlando has three more games on its schedule to clinch the first post-season appearance in club history. Alex Morgan assisted on one of Orlando’s goals and created another with a shot that was parried by the goalkeeper before being finished by Rachel Hill, who also benefit from Morgan’s assist. Midfielder Rose Lavelle returned to the field for the first time since injuring her hamstring in June and played the final 18 minutes.
FC Kansas City vs. Sky Blue FC (4-1: LaBonta, Groom (2), Leroux; Tiernan)
A dominant win for FCKC at home keeps the two-time NWSL champions alive, but only just barley, in the playoff race. Sitting in seventh place, FCKC has three games left on its schedule, including a huge one coming up against Chicago on Saturday in Lifetime’s Game of the Week. Sydney Leroux scored her team-leading sixth goal of the season for FCKC.
Chicago Red Stars vs. North Carolina Courage (2-1: Nagasato, Ertz; Williams)
Chicago won its third consecutive game to get back on track and remain in third place in the standings. After Lynn Williams opened the scoring for the visitors on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park, Christen Press slipped a beautiful assist to Yuki Nagasato to tie the game. Julie Ertz scored the game-winner in the 84th minute to give the Red Stars a win in its final regular season match at home this year. Midfielder Morgan Brian played her first game for the Red Stars after being traded from the Houston Dash. She came off the bench to play the final 26 minutes.
Houston Dash vs. Seattle Reign – (0-1: Mathias)
In a game that was played in Frisco, Texas due to the heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, the Dash fell to Seattle 1-0 on Sunday night. The victory marked the 50th all-time win for the Reign and head coach Laura Harvey. Due to Sky Blue FC’s loss earlier to FC Kansas City, the Reign sit in fifth place in the NWSL table and five points behind Orlando Pride for the final playoff spot with only three games remaining. For Seattle, the next game is crucial and it comes against the team it most needs to beat: Orlando. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe returned to the field for the first time since recovering from minor knee surgery that had sidelined her for several weeks. She played the final 12 minutes.
WNT Players in NWSL Action
Midfielder Julie Ertz – 90 minutes, GOAL (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Lindsey Horan – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Ali Krieger – 90 minutes (Orlando Pride)
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Forward Christen Press (capt.) – 90 minutes, ASSIST (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Casey Short – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Morgan Brian – 26 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Meghan Klingenberg – 90 minutes, ASSIST (Portland Thorns FC)
Forward Alex Morgan – 90 minutes, ASSIST (Orlando Pride)
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (capt.) – 90 minutes (Orlando Pride)
Forward Mallory Pugh – 45 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Forward Sydney Leroux – 90 minutes, GOAL (FC Kansas City)
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.) – 90 minutes (FC Kansas City)
Midfielder Allie Long – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Kelley O’Hara – 90 minutes (Sky Blue FC)
Midfielder Rose Lavelle – 18 minutes (Boston Breakers)
Forward Lynn Williams – 90 minutes, GOAL (NC Courage)
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe – 12 minutes (Seattle Reign FC)
Midfielder Samantha Mewis – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Defender Abby Dahlkemper – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell – 90 minutes (Houston Dash)
Did Not Play
Midfielder Tobin Heath – Back injury (Portland Thorns)
Forward Amy Rodriguez – Torn ACL; Out for the season (FC Kansas City)
Midfielder Carli Lloyd – Ankle injury (Houston Dash)